Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Like A Tree

A good friend of mine, Kate Plourde, has started a series of new devotionals on God's Goodness In Creation. Day Five is dealing with trees, which reminded me of two other short studies on trees in the Bible - one by another friend (Julie's Jewels), called Are You Growing?, and one that I studied out several years ago. I would encourage you to read all three studies, if you are interested, as each tackles this theme from different perspectives.

Like A Tree

Meditating on various verses this morning, especially some from Jeremiah, caused me to question what type of tree was I? My intention here is to bring out some general thoughts in this devotional, and not to do an in-depth study. Though I would encourage anyone that is interested to do a study on the various trees in Scripture, the characteristics of each, and how they each picture the righteous or the wicked. I have heard a sermon each on The Cedars Of Lebanon and The Olive Tree, and I have found them both very profitable, in light of the many Bible passages that do portray them.

1) Are you a tree planted by the waters or like useless chaff that is blown away?

Psalms 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

What are the influences you allow into your life? Are you walking in the counsel of the ungodly? If you want to be a tree planted by the rivers of water, you need to only drink from pure water sources (those based firmly on God’s Word), not contaminated ones! (See Proverbs 19:27) Are you standing in the way of sinners? You know they will not lead you right. It is better to walk with the Lord, obey His Word, and stand in the old paths alone, rather than compromise to keep and fit in with your unsaved friends. (See Jeremiah 6:16) Are you sitting in the seat of the scornful? Are you letting those who mock or explain away God’s Word teach you and make the decisions in your life? (See Genesis 3:1 and 2 Peter 3:3-7)

If you want to be fruitful and productive in your service to the Lord, watch those influences! Look at the contrast here between the righteous (above) and the wicked who disregard Bible commands and principles, who refuse to be ruled and guided by the Word of God. They are like chaff, useless, good for nothing.

Psalms 1:4-6 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

A friend of mine, upon reading this passage, once stated that she worked on a farm and she understood what chaff was. She said that chaff was irritating (itchy), useless, and it gets up your nose! Let’s not be irritating and useless to God or others.

2) Are you like a tree planted by the waters or like a heath in the desert?

Jeremiah 17:5-8 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

A heath is a shrub, a type of juniper. Easton’s Bible Dictionary states, "Its gloomy, stunted appearance, with its scale-like leaves pressed close to its gnarled stem, and cropped close by the wild goats, as it clings to the rocks about Petra, gives great force to the contrast suggested by the prophet, between him that trusteth in man, naked and destitute, and the man that trusteth in the Lord, flourishing as a tree planted by the waters." Smith’s Bible Dictionary states it is “a dwarf, stunted juniper which grows in the most sterile parts of the desert.”

The contrast is pretty clear: either we trust fully in the Lord day by day and are like a tree planted by the waters, whose roots always have abundance – thriving, abundant, flourishing, fruitful, not wilting in the heat – or we trust in our own resources (ourselves), our own strength, or the strength of men, and are like a heath in the desert – lifeless, wilting, parched, thirsty, unfulfilled and unfruitful. It is interesting that God states that those that trust in man are not only like a heath in the desert, but are in a salt land not inhabited! Not only dry and thirsty, but parched and desperate, but no water is in sight!

Are the waters in your life stagnant or flowing (living)?

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

3) Are you like the olive tree, the palm tree, and the cedar, or are you like the bay tree?

Psalms 52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

Green, fruitful, and useful for so many things.

Psalms 92:12-14 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

Many palm trees produce fruit all year round. Obviously here, the picture is one of a flourishing, healthy, productive tree, producing fruit and still thriving even when mature. The stately cedars are able to withstand storms that come their way – they just grow stronger and send their roots down deeper. Are you like that? Are you abiding in Christ, growing stronger in your walk with the Lord, drawing closer to Him, producing fruit that will remain? (See John 15:2, 5, 8, 16)

Or are you like the bay tree? All leaves and no substance? No fruit? Not useful to the Lord?

Psalms 37:35-36 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.

4) Are you a tree of life?

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

Some of the fruits a Christian produces are good works and godly words, but the main fruit God left us here to produce is the fruit of soulwinning. Are you sowing the seed of the Gospel, witnessing of the salvation found in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you want to be a tree of life, fruitful and pleasing to the Lord, be wise and be a soulwinner.

Obviously I have only touched the surface of looking at these trees in Scripture. Maybe this devotional will give you something to think about the next time you read more about them – and as you look at the fruit in your own life.

November 4th, 2004
Jerry Bouey


Mike said...

Thank you so much! I am preparing a bible study on the tabernacle of moses and needed some scriptures of what wood represents in the bible. This has helped a great deal.

Jerry Bouey said...

Thank you for visiting, Mike. I am glad something here was a help to you. Perhaps you may find other studies here that would be a blessing and strength in your walk with the Lord.

In the tabernacle/temple, shittim (acacia) wood is symbolic of the humanity of Christ - useful, sturdy, but not pleasant looking. Gold represents deity. Oftentimes, you will find wooden furniture and implements in the tabernacle made of wood covered with gold - representing the unity of Christ's human and divine natures.

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